Nathan Blackwood is going into his seventh season as Head Coach of the defending NAIA Champion Lubbock Christian Chaparrals. His career record is 281-89. He played for the Chaparrals as an undergraduate, and also coached at Harding University.
Bob Broughton, The College Baseball Blog: The defending NAIA champion is someone other than Lewis-Clark State this year. Has this idea caught on in Lubbock yet?
Nathan Blackwood, Lubbock Christian: I think so. The Lubbock community has always been extremely supportive of LCU Baseball and has really done a good job of welcoming and recognizing these student athletes. This is a baseball town and has been for a long time. The people here can really appreciate an accomplishment like this.
CBB: You sent three players to pro ball this year, Rene Garcia (White Sox), Will Stramp (Reds), and Jakob Cunningham (independent league Shreveport-Bossier Captains). How are they doing?
NB: All three are doing really well. Will and Rene got off to slow starts, but came around better towards the end. Jakob started and finished well and was selected to the league all-star game. He is currently back in Lubbock finishing up his degree, but will return towards the end of next spring.
CBB: Who has looked especially good for you during the fall season?
NB: We had several hitters that had good falls, Doug Kroll (1B from Oklahoma State), Ross Blondin, and Reid Chenworth (OF from Phoenix College) were among the leaders in most offensive categories.
CBB: The Sooner Athletic Conference was a very competitive league last year. Who do you think will be challenging you for the pennant this time around?
NB: The SAC has always been very competitive, and as I’ve always told my team, if we can be successful in this league, then we have a chance to do something in the post-season. I was extremely pleased when the NAIA changed the World Series qualification plan to allow the best 10 teams in the nation the opportunity to qualify. This allows multiple teams from each conference the opportunity to get to the world series. The SAC represented the top two seeded teams last year, and I’m confident that in years past, the SAC would have sent multiple teams to Lewiston on many occasions.
CBB: Your game at Texas Tech last season drew 4,000 fans, and may have been the cross-divisional game of the decade. You don’t have the Red Raiders on your schedule this season. Why not?
NB: That was a great night of baseball for fans in the city of Lubbock. Each year we try to schedule games with Tech, but unfortunately most years, they are able to fill their schedule with all Division I opponents. When that happens, they have no reason to play us other than for baseball fans in this area. Last year was a tribute to Larry Hays, who is the biggest reason that college baseball is such a big part of the Lubbock area.
CBB: Hays is back at LCU as the softball coach. Have you been giving him any advice on softball strategy?
NB: Not hardly, I’m not much help in the area of softball. Larry, however, was a very successful fast-pitch softball player even before he became so successful as a baseball coach. I was a little surprised when he took the job, in fact I told him he was crazy, but he seems to be having a blast. He’s just a great guy to be around, and we’re fortunate to have him back at LCU.
CBB: Your biography says that you played for LCU in the early 90′s, and you’ve lived in Lubbock most of your life. What is it, besides giving us Buddy Holly, that makes Lubbock a special place?
NB:The people. I’ve always bragged about the people in Lubbock and the West Texas area, and I’ve been blessed to be a part of such a great university and a town that not only supports and loves baseball, but more importantly, appreciates and upholds the values that I believe are important. I’m thankful that I’m able to raise my family in an environment like this.
Lubbock Christian site: http://www.lcuchaps.com